Making Alive Choices
“What life choice feels the most alive or ‘juicy’ for me right now?”
I often ask myself this question. It is particularly useful for breaking out of ruts or stale routines.
On this particular evening, I was driving to the beach to exercise, as I often do at that time. As I drove the familiar route, I suddenly realized that I felt chilled and hungry, and bored with my usual routine. But I had no idea what the most alive choice would be. In fact, I felt like just going home and eating soup (which is sometimes the most alive choice!).
But I felt restless, so I just drove my car until I felt like stopping. I stopped in front of a favorite restaurant, and the little table in the window was available, so I went in. As I sat and ate the delicious food, I read the paper and saw that two of my favorite authors were speaking together that night. Pema Chodron (author of “When Things Fall Apart”) and Jack Kornfield (author of “After the Ecstasy, the Laundry”) were hosting a benefit for the Spirit Rock Meditation Center, and I’d forgotten to get tickets.
I felt resigned to missing the event, as it had already started, so I went to a neighborhood bookstore. As I walked down the aisle, I noticed a book on the floor and bent down to pick it up. It was one of Pema Chodron’s!
Now my most alive choice felt clear. I needed to go to this event.
As soon as I had this thought, the “practical” part of me began speaking. This “practical” part of me loves to find reasons things won’t work and to state them emphatically:
“Oh, it’s too late now, the event has already started.”
“It’s probably sold out anyway.”
“You’ll never find parking.”
I’ve learned to ignore those messages and proceed anyway. This ignoring is a crucial part of finding my alive choices and having serendipitous adventures. I’ve learned that the “practical” part of me doesn’t “know” how things will be. In fact, most of its messages are based on the past, fear or someone else’s experience. It’s so tempting to listen to why it won’t work and just do something safe and familiar. Often, the most alive choice feels a bit risky in some way.
As I drove to the event, I began to feel quite elated and very alive at the prospect of a fresh adventure. This was what I needed. It was exercise of a different kind.
Twenty minutes later, I was still searching for parking and feeling frustrated. So I decided that if a parking spot didn’t open up in the next five minutes, I would do something else. Four minutes later, a car pulled out. As I went into the center where the event was being held, I was over an hour late, so the only person in the large lobby was a kind-looking man sitting at the table with books and tapes. I asked him where I could buy a ticket, and he replied, smiling, “Oh, here, just use mine.”
I thanked him profusely and went in to find my seat. I told the woman next to me that I knew it would be over soon, and she said, “Don’t worry, you haven’t missed much at all. There was some kind of computer glitch, and we all waited over an hour for it to even start.”(Take that, “practical” voice!)
I heard such wise, tender, funny words that night. I heard exactly what I needed to fill my soul.
As I exited the event, I stopped by the book table to buy books and tapes and to make a donation to Spirit Rock. The kind man who had given me his ticket told me I looked familiar. I explained that he’d given me his ticket to get in. He grinned and asked, “Are you…SARK?” I said rather shyly that I was, and he exclaimed, “Oh, I just love it! Isn’t this just like something that would happen in your books?”
We laughed together about serendipity and how it works. (His name is Colin –- thank you, dear Colin.)
Then I walked over to the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral and walked beneath the moonlight, which led me to swing on the swings at the park across the street, which led me to have tea at the Fairmont Hotel while listening to violin music.
My most alive choice had been made, and it led me to other alive choices. I felt refreshed, renewed and reminded that serendipitous adventures can occur anytime. We just need to choose them.
Are you making the most alive choices? Why, or why not?
Yours in splendor, Susan (aka SARK)
For more information on how to optimize your life, visit PlanetSARK.com
Photo credit: staci myers